SGA rejects bill to provide voting transparency to student body

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    Student representatives rejected a bill to provide the voting records of each representative at Tuesday night’s Student Government Association meeting.

    Blake Tilley and Victoria Middleton, the authors of the bill, said they thought that this could be an opportunity for SGA to move toward transparency.

    Student Body President Cody Westphal said that transparency is very important because it was a huge problem seen last semester in SGA.

    An electronic voting system was put into place last spring that allows representatives to vote anonymously. At the end of each vote, percentages show how many people are for, against or abstain from voting for the bill.

    This bill called for each representative to be assigned a clicker with a specific serial number so that his or her exact votes could be tracked. These votes would then be published for everyone to see.

    The bill originally stated that the voting records for each individual would be “kept private until two weeks before next session’s election.”

    “The reason that we made it two weeks was so that people aren’t intimidated by having to give their vote right away,” Middleton said.

    Many representatives disagreed with this part of the bill, so an amendment was passed to change it to “voting records are to be published on SGA media within one week of the vote’s completion.”

    Representative Matt Spangler said he was completely for this bill and that students deserve to know how people vote in house. Mitch Titsworth agreed with him.

    “I think that [representatives] should put their name next to how they vote,” Titsworth said. “If people have a problem with how I vote, they can come talk to me and ask me about it.”

    On the other hand, some student representatives thought that having a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ next to their name about how they voted could cause misinterpretation, especially in the media.

    “I am all for transparency, however; I have a very large problem with posting things on social media and SGA media,” said representative Alex Cohen. “You can take a lot from the internet. If someone votes yes or no on a bill, there is no explanation. It’s so easy to twist someone’s words.”

    The bill was rejected by 52 percent of student representatives voting against it.

    Other items from Tuesday’s meeting:

    -Ninety-one percent of student representatives passed a bill to give $3,000 to Texas Christian University’s Journal of the Arts eleven40seven. They voted after a detailed explanation of the journal’s budget was given. Debate for the bill took place two weeks ago.